I read about dry firing in an email from Dr. Piazza at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute and I have implemented it into my day. I too use short training cycles on this and it has so vastly improved my ability, it is remarkable.
My last time shooting, I has a lot more confidence in myself and my shooting reflected it!
From I.C.E. Training - Rob Pincus
Dry Reps can lead to Poor Performance.
Too often, we see students who have been practicing without the accountability of firing a shot, rushing their actions and failing on the range.
by Rob Pincus
I can remember when just about everyone you talked to, in a gun shop or on the internet, was repeating clichéd lines in regard to the incredible importance of dry fire practice. “Dry fire 1000 times for every live round you shoot” used to be a common thought in the firearms training world. Nowadays, most people have figured out that over-thinking and over-choreographing the single trigger press without recoil and without the accountability of a result is only a valid training method for extreme marksmanship pursuits like Bull’s Eye pistol shooting or extreme precision rifle endeavors. The importance of rapid multiple shot strings of fire in regard to stopping a threat is pretty much universally accepted and the old days of over emphasized “follow through” and controlling your breathing while pulling the trigger on a defensive gun are pretty well behind us.
More often than not, however, I still see the virtues of dry fire practice extolled in regard to other aspects of defensive firearms training, such as presentation from the holster and reloads.
While there is absolutely value in deepening the “rut in the road” when it comes to complex motor skills, rehearsing them in context, especially in response to the appropriate stimuli, is integral to performing them intuitively in a real world situation. Furthermore, we need to make sure that we are executing our techniques appropriately and if we don’t get the right feedback (like a bullet impact on the target), we may not know that we are doing something wrong.. . let alone be able to figure out what we are doing wrong.
What this means is that if you are practicing slide lock reloads without the true initiation stimulus of feeling slide lock, you ingraining an intuitive response, you are only working on the execution of the complex motor skill in isolation. This, of course, still offers some advantage over doing nothing at all if you are executing the reload from an extended position with the firearm at slide lock with a dummy round of some kind (or modified magazine that will allow slide to go forward). A better example of the negative impact of rehearsing a complex motor skill is seen when we look at dry practice of presentations form the holster. Too often, I see people practicing their presentation from the holster in a sloppy way, not truly integrating their entire focus on a perceived threat or their entire body into the presentation process. For those of you familiar with the Combat Focus Shooting™ Methodology, let’s set aside the aspects of integrating the flinch response and lateral movement into the presentation. Obviously, some people have not been introduced to these concepts prior to attending a course, so it is unfair to criticize dry practice as inappropriate simply because these aspects as not integrated. Furthermore, not all students have practiced dry presentations before they attend a course. One thing, however, that has become very popular over the past few years is the idea of sticking the gun back out to a shooting position after completing a slide lock reload. I would say that over 50% of the individuals attending CFS courses in the past year that have attended previous training from another nationally known school or “progressive” military or law enforcement training integrate this step into their range practice with some level of regularity. The specific execution of the technique differs, with some people returning to a true shooting position and others to some form of an extended ready position. Almost universally, these students do not actually shoot after a reload, they just return to a shooting position. About half the time, the students also begin assessing while the gun is still in that shooting position.
During CFS Training, we stress the avoidance of bad habits on the range, ie- these that are not universally congruent with likely conditions in a dynamic critical incident and stress the development of good habits which do meet that criteria. The habit of always reacting to a failure to fire (a “click”) with a tap rack, for example, is the type of 100% “always a good thing to do in a fight” technique that we look to develop properly. This habit of always extending the gun directly out in front of your body towards the paper target after a slide lock reload does not fall into this category. Obviously, we can think of other things that we might want to do with our pistol after reloading. We might not be oriented towards our threat at that time, because of our movement or theirs. We might not have a threat to immediately, because of movement to cover or possibly because we have recognized that our threat has been dealt with during the reload. We might also have an extreme close quarters threat within two arms reach, that might be able to easier grasp our gun or foul our response if we extend in an automated way.
For these reasons, we have a simple rule during CFS Courses: If you go back to a shooting position after a reload, you need to actually Shoot. The presumption there being that you are simulating a situation in which you are visualizing the need to shoot immediately and that is why you are extending the gun. The corollary to the rule is: If you don’t visualize a threat, don’t go back to a shooting position, stay in a ready position and continue to assess.
What does this have to do with the point of the article? At least as often as not, students who have developed the bad habit of extending their gun automatically after a reload have a harder time getting Combat Accurate hits after their reloads than the students new to the concept. How is this possible? The next time you are on a range with people who have this habit, take a moment to watch them carefully. Compare their initial extension to a shooting position when they start a string of fire to their automated extension after a reload when they are not shooting. Chances are good that you will easily notice that they are less “into” the latter presentations. You are very likely to notice one or more of the following:
-not extend their arms as far.
-not extend their gun into and parallel to their line of sight
-not get their body weight behind the gun
-not focusing intently on their intended impact area
So, when they are held to the new standard, requiring them to shoot for effect if they extend, their old habit of not extending correctly become s a detrimental rut in the road that they have to un-train. The students who are acting after the reload because of a visualized need to shoot (just as they do at the beginning of a string of fire when a command is given) extend much more consistently at all times and have less trouble getting combat accurate hits after slide lock reloads.
Of course, this isn’t to say that there is no value at all to dry fire or that it can’t be done in a way that is as consistent as possible with actually training live to develop practical techniques. In fact, he next release in the Personal Defense Firearms series will be a Dry Fire Practice DVD featuring Claude Werner of the Rogers Shooting School. Claude has developed a more practical and thought out approach to dry fire practice than any instructor that I have ever scene, which is why I invited him to participate in the series. I encourage you to check it out, if you dry fire practice is part of your regimen.
A few tips:
-Visualization of an appropriate stimulus to act is often an easy way to get integrity into your training.
-Having a training partner to keep you honest or reviewing video of yourself training can also help a great deal.
-Stick to practicing things that you have learned in the context of live fire, don’t try to “practice” things you haven’t learned.
Keep these concepts in mind, not only the next time you think about engaging in dry fire practice, but also if you have other techniques which you are trying to automate without context on the range.
It is free. It is easy. I could do it. I should do it. I will do it...maybe starting tomorrow...or at least by next week.
Dry firing really helped my trigger control. You can definately tell if you are flinching or not pulling straight back. On a new pistol it helps me cheaply get accustomed with the trigger pull. It doesn't replace live fire, but I don't have the time or money to get to the range more than once a week.